The first trip to a Scandinavian country happened last weekend with Denmark as the destination. It was a choice between Copenhagen, Denmark and Strasbourg, France for travel buddy Ara and I, but taking into account cost (flight and accommodation, we didn’t know we were in for a surprise in Denmark) and exoticism, we went for Copenhagen. It would have been cool to see the famous Christmas markets in Strasbourg too, but they’re exactly why the reason why train tickets and hotel prices are jacked up, probably. Oh well, I’ll have my chance for Strasbourg again.
Actually, I always thought Scandinavia is Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Makes sense, no? The three long countries in northern Europe…turns out it was a geography lesson learned for me as I found out Denmark, not Finland, is part of Scandinavia. The four countries, plus Iceland, are the Nordic countries. Ah, terminology!
A few observations on Denmark or well, Danish people in particular. (1) Danish people speak excellent English, almost without an accent (“not quite British, not quite American” as mentioned in this entry). (2) Danish people are extremely friendly, so friendly that it warms up even a bleak winter. (3) Danish guys are quite hot ^_^ One of my colleagues suggested that it was necessary to offset the cold temperature in Denmark. Very likely, my friend. Good hypothesis 😉
Denmark is one of those mysterious countries that I knew nothing about before going. With the mindset of “not knowing anything and counting on finding out more when we get there”, Ara and I headed into Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, on a delayed flight, and the story begins. (Click for Copenhagen album on Facebook.)
I gotta start this post with my favourite photo of the trip, taken at Nyhavn, or “New Harbour” in central Copenhagen right after we arrived. The canal area, surrounded by colourful façades and boats on both sides, is gorgeous during the day but stunningly beautiful when reflected in the water during the night. Thankfully the wind and snow didn’t hit until day 2, so the water was calm enough to give us this scene!
Strøget, the main pedestrian shopping street in Copenhagen, was adorned with Christmas spirit. It seems that the heart is a very popular Danish icon, as they were in every corner of the city ❤
Ah, dinner time. We were quite hungry by the time we got to the city centre from the airport, and we quickly looked for some warm food. Ara had suggested having the traditional Danish Christmas dinner, which is a smörgåsbord of 10+ different types of dishes, but all the restaurants we found serving the Christmas menu were fully booked 😦 Blah, didn’t know it was that popular. We should have made reservations beforehand. Ah well, we did end up finding a nice restaurant with traditional Christmas dishes, just not the full smörgåsbord. With special Christmas beer, some beautiful flowers, and great company, how much more enjoyable could it get? 😉
Top left: Appetizer 1, grilled tiger prawns marinated with garlic, chives, coriander, and olive oil. Served on toasted bread and sprinkled with soy. Top right: Appetizer 2, 3 kinds of herring – marinated herring, curry herring, butter fried herring served with mustard, löjrom and capers. Bottom left: Main course, roast pork and roast duck served with white potatoes, red cabbage, sour and brown sauce. Bottom right: Brunch buffet the next morning.
Apparently herring is very popular in Denmark, and it was oh-so-very-delicious! The prawns were exceptional as well, but the main course was heavenly. Red cabbage…love love love! Sour and brown sauce was basically gravy, and the pork and duck were perfectly roasted and delicately presented. Overall a very satisfying dinner ^_^
A note about brunch: Ara and I heard that brunch is common in Denmark, so we decided to find a place to fuel up before starting a day of adventures, which turned out to be a good idea because day 2 turned out to be COLD AND WINDY! A lot of energy was needed especially because we had to walk a lot in the snow! Thankfully the brunch buffet did a nice job of filling me up; I didn’t even feel hungry until dinner!
So yup, day 2. We were welcomed by nothing other than the Scandinavian snow, which was what I had been anticipating. Well, I was more looking forward to light snow, not violent snow that completely soaked my boots and scarf by the end of the day, but I love winter and I am glad I was able to experience some real coldness. Here we were walking through a large open area towards the Rosenborg Castle.
And of course, some people took full advantage of the abundant snow to create something fun and amusing. I would have liked to make a snowman too, if I were better equipped!
Next trip: The Little Mermaid! It was actually quite a painful process, trying to find the lady in the heavy snow, as we had to walk against the wind with the snow striking our faces with full force! Anyway, we found her eventually, sitting on her rock with the merciless snow surrounding her. Poor thing. Aren’t you cold, mademoiselle?
Denmark really is the land of fairy tales because it is the birthplace of the famous Hans Christian Andersen, king of fairy tales. As a child I’ve read Andersen’s stories such as The Little Match Girl, The Ugly Duckling, and The Princess and the Pea. During our visit to Copenhagen, we lived the world of Andersen by visiting the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, where fairy tales like The Little Mermaid (top left), Thumbelina (top right), The Tin Soldier (bottom left), and The Emperor’s New Clothes (bottom right) came to life.
After the stroll in fairyland, Ara and I headed to the Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park in the centre of Copenhagen. It would have been quite expensive, but it was included in the cOPENhagen card that we got and DEFINITELY worth it for the Christmas season, as it was completely transformed into a winter wonderland. One thing I wasn’t quite sure about though…why did everything in the park feel so Chinese-themed?
The Christmas markets in Copenhagen reminded me of the ones in Cologne last year, very lively and festive.Of course, there was more food! At the Christmas markets, we tried some æbleskiver, pictured above, and glögg (picture not shown), or mulled wine/vin chaud/glühwein. Æbleskiver was like a cross between Belgian waffles, Japanese takoyaki (just the shape), and eggettes from Hong Kong. With the strawberry jam, they were very tasty 😀
Ah, what a spectacular view of the Tivoli Gardens! Christmas wonderland is no exaggeration, and the entire night I was in the garden, I felt like I had been transported into another world, one where dreams came alive and fairy tales danced. Copenhagen, what a place!
There’s Annie and Ara, the adventurous travel buddies who wanted to experience a Scandinavian winter maybe just once. Okay, perhaps it was only the beginning of winter, but it was already cold enough to make us go BRR! I certainly enjoyed the trip with Ara, thanks for the great company!
We said goodbye to Copenhagen as a Danish flag waved proudly in the cool morning air on the morning of day 3. Hej hej!